Paper, plastic or reusable? Reusable shopping bags have exploded in popularity, and many stores offer discounts for using your own bag versus using store-supplied bags. I’ve amassed quite a collection of reusable grocery bags (more on that later in this column!) and I like using them for several reasons. In addition to receiving discounts for bringing my own bags, I find that the reusable bags are stronger – important to me as I often am toting heavy groceries downstairs to my pantry. It only took one glass bottle of maple syrup to rip through a plastic, disposable bag and shatter on my garage floor for me to remember to bring my bags with me on each shopping trip. Now, I keep a “bag of bags” in my vehicle – five or six reusable bags stuck inside another reusable bag – so that they’re always ready for the next shopping trip.
Reader Carl is having some issues with reusable bags though. Here’s his email.
This is not a coupon issue but rather an issue with reusable grocery bags. Over the last couple years, I have had about a dozen bags. At least a half dozen broke down and turned to powder. One was brand new – never used – which fell behind the driver’s seat of my car and, when I tried to pick it up after a couple months, it broke down into dust in my hands. Disposable plastic bags have never done this.
It’s true that some reusable bags are indeed constructed more durably than others. I mentioned my reusable bag collection earlier – I would estimate that I have more than thirty bags now, so I can offer some tips on which kinds seem to last the longest. How did I get so many? Well, my original collection of bags started a few years ago when several retailers began giving away a free reusable bag if you shopped on Earth Day in April. I’ve also acquired additional bags from in-store offers, such as buying three boxes of cereal to get a free shopping bag.
But the rest of my bags? They’re cheap souvenirs of the cities and states I’ve visited when traveling the country for work or for pleasure.